Sunday, January 27, 2008

And it was all yellow - Lemon Meringue Tarts, or, How many times can she type meringe in one post?

"And I, I will always love youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu, Iiiiiiiiii will always love-"

Oh, hi! Sorry, I didn't hear you come in. I was just making a mixed tape to send to Jen from The Canadian Baker. What? Why am I making her a mixed tape? Well, when I was in high school sixty years ago a few years back, if you liked someone, you made them a mixed tape. And I am crushing on Jen for introducing me to the best Lemon Meringue recipe I've ever had.

I have never, ever even thought about making Lemon Meringues Pie (LMP), I figured it would be way over my head. But Jen, bless her little Canuck soul, have gifted us with not only an easy LMP recipe, but one that is so delicious too.

You start with crust; never my favorite thing to make, quite frankly. The secrets to making a good crust have always eluded me. But for this recipe since I had elected to make tarts, I pretty much just needed 6 disks of pastry. Even I could manage that (almost)! After I made the dough (in the food processor which was nice) and baked them, I left them to cool and started on the filling. Who knew lemon curd was so simple to make? Once the curd is ready (water, sugar, cornstarch, butter, and egg yolks) you add lemon juice - I juiced my lemons with my juicer - and mix it in along with some lemon zest and vanilla. Give the curd some time to cool, and it's on to the meringue.

I have made meringue before, and had no qualms about leaving out the cream of tartar since I don't have any. It didn't seem to make a difference, which is exactly what I was hoping for. When the meringue was ready and the oven was preheated I put those bad boys together - a huuuuge dollop of curd on crust; then cover the curd with meringue. Into the oven until the meringue is golden brown, and then let them cool before ripping into them with your fork.

I was so excited with my accomplishment that the moment I finished taking these terrible photos, one of the tarts and I got into the car and drove over to my parents house for some early dessert. It was inCREDible. The meringue was great, the curd was totally divine, and even the crust, while not pretty, was delicious! This was by far my most successful and stress free Daring Baker challenge yet!

If you like LMP, try this recipe. If you don't love it, there is possibly something wrong with you.

Thanks Jen!

Lemon Meringue Pie
from "Wanda's Pie in the Sky" by Wanda Beaver
Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

For the Crust:
3/4 cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/3 cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 cup (60 mL) butter
3/4 cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

For the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
1/4 tsp (1.2 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
3/4 cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

To Make the Crust:
Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt.Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of 1/8 inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about 1/2 inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

To Make the Filling:
Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated. Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

To Make the Meringue:
Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.

Round Table Review - Where Flavor Was Born

My email and instant messaging program have been working overtime this past month, for fun and exciting reasons. Thanks to Sia over at The Lisa Ekus Group I've been having a great time organizing the first Round Table Review. What's that? Well 4 fellow food bloggers (Mike ofMel's Diner, Lis of La Mia Cucina, Mary from The Sour Dough and Deborah of What's In My Kitchen) and I reviewed a cookbook together. We cooked exactly the same recipes, shared our thoughts and ideas with each other along the way, and now we're ready to share the end results with you!

The book we reviewed is called "Where Flavor Was Born: Recipes and Culinary Travels Along the Indian Ocean Spice Route" by Andreas Viestad, Photographs by Mette Randem.

This is a big, bold book full of vibrant colors and textures. There are 14 categories of spice - Cumin, Simply Spicy, Pepper, Ginger, Chiles, Cardamom, Curries, Coriander, Turmeric, Lemongrass, Tamarind, Nutmeg & Cloves, Vanilla, Cinnamon - as well as well as sources to purchase spices from, a chart of scoville units (the heat of peppers) and further readings. Each section begins with a story from Mr. Viestad, related to the spice of the chapter. The stories are as intriguing as the recipes themselves. Just as important to this book are the photographs by Mette Randem. As well as pictures of the food (although not every recipe has a photo) there are pictures of the spices themselves, and sensational pictures the people, places and things related to the spices and recipes. It took all my self control not to start ripping pages out of the book so I could frame and hang these amazing images all over the house.

We all made lists of the recipes we wanted to try, then narrowed it down to 6. They were:
Fresh Yogurt Cucumber Soup with Coriander and Cumin
Stuffed Onions with Ginger and Lamb
Entrecote with Onion, Ginger and Tamarind
Grilled Green Fish with Red Rice
Bananas with Coconut and Cardamom
Coconut Curry Cake

We soon found out that not all of us were able to find the ingredients for the Grilled Green Fish, so we added the alternative recipe Fish in Coconut Curry.


Fresh Yogurt Cucumber Soup with Coriander and Cumin

This was certainly the fastest recipe, ready in just a few minutes with chilling time of 30 minutes. I'd have trouble recommending this as a starter; that is how I served it and while it had a great taste - cumin is one of my most favourite spices - it was difficult to eat more than a few spoonfuls. I think Mr. Viestad's suggestion to serve as a side dish with a very hot main course is more appropriate.

Entrecote with Onion, Ginger and Tamarind

I have enjoyed Tamarind the few times I've had it, and this was Mary's first recipe choice. This was one of my favorites of what we tried, but I must tell you I did make some changes. The recipe serves two, yet calls for six onions. That seemed excessive so I cut it down to 3 which was still a lot, but more manageable. While I was making it, Scott was reading over my shoulder and was sad that the liquid in the onions was cooked away - he was hoping for a sauce. So I increased the amount of beer and did not simmer all the liquid away. I added the steaks back into the sauce to finish cooking, as well. The sauce was in my opinion the best part of the dish. Also, next time I make this (which will be soon) I will grill the steaks, and make the sauce separately. I don't like pan fried steak at all. It was the only drawback of the dish for me.

Fish in Coconut Curry

I didn't have luck gathering the ingredients for the Grilled Green Fish, so I chose our alternate. This was very, very good. Cardamom, Cumin and Cinnamon are dry roasted, and then simmered with tomato, onions, lime juice, and coconut milk. The sauce is fantastic and would be great with chicken or veggies too. I cooked this for Scott and my parents and everyone enjoyed it.

Stuffed Onions with Ginger and Lamb

This recipe for me was the highlight of the Round Table review, because this was the one that we all talked about and shared tips on the most. This one was frustrating to all of us - the proportions of ingredients were off. Since all of us had the exact same problems, it wasn't us. There are two problems - #1 - Too much onion. I think (and am backed up by the other reviewers) that you need half or less of the onion "guts" (thanks Mike) for the filing. #2 - Wayyyyyy too much meat. I cut the recipe in half, and used about 3/4 of a pound of meat instead of 1 full pound. It was still too much meat, by half. Were my onions too small? But then if my onions were bigger, I'd have more onion guts, which would make more filling.....very perplexing. The filling was fantastic, with both fresh and powdered ginger, and cumin, which as I said, is one of my favorites. I think I'll be making meatballs out of the leftover filling, and they will be wonderful. PS - I used ground turkey instead of lamb.

Coconut Curry Cake

This one sits in the middle for me. It was easy to make, very moist, and the aroma was amazing! On the other hand it was crumbly, and the coconut taste was lost in the cake. On the other hand, the spices were mild. Which isn't necessarily a positive or a negative. It could have been served with a savory dish, as my Dad pointed out, just as easily as it was a dessert.

Bananas with Coconut and Cardamom

No pictures of this one, which was a real winner. Coconut milk, cloves and cardamom pods are simmered together, and then bananas are added and cooked through. I realized afterwards I forgot to add the sugar, but it made no difference. Because I haven't ever cooked with Cardamom pods before I used the small amount. This is a fast easy dessert that you could make at a moments notice, providing you have coconut milk, bananas, cloves, and cardamom on hand, of course.


I really really like this book, and can't wait to try more recipes, especially out of the Simply Spicy (pineapple with minced shrimp and peanut topping, anyone?) and Ginger (potato croquettes with ginger and honey!) sections. If you like spice, check this book out.

Thanks to my 4 friends for reviewing this book with me! Please check out their posts as well.


Bananas with Coconut and Cardamom
by Andreas Viestad, Where Flavor Was Born
Photography by Mette Randem; Chronicle Books; 2007.

Serves 2

4 to 8 Cardamom Pods
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk or a combination of coconut milk and unsweetened coconut cream
1 clove
4 small slightly under ripe bananas
1 to 3 TB brown sugar

Bruise the cardamom pods gently between your hands, making small cracks in the hard pods, but stopping short of breaking them open. The more you crush them, the stronger the cardamom flavor.
Combine the coconut milk, cardamom and clove in a pot large enough to hold the bananas. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes to release the flavor of the cardamom. Sample the coconut milk and adjust the flavor if necessary by crushing or bruising one or more of the cardamom pods with a wooden spatula or spoon.
Peel the bananas and add to the coconut milk. Boil gently for 5 minutes, turning once. Add sugar to taste and allow it to dissolve before gently transferring the bananas to serving plates. Spoon over the coconut milk and serve.

Fish in Coconut Curry
by Andreas Viestad, Where Flavor Was Born
Photography by Mette Randem; Chronicle Books; 2007.

Serves 2 as a main course

1 lb mackerel or other white fleshed fish
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 tsp finely grated fresh turmeric or 1/2 tsp powdered turmeric
2 cardamom pods
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 to 3 cloves
1 1/4 inch piece of cinnamon stick, or 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 TB vegetable oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 tomato, chopped
juice of 1 lime
2/3 cup fresh coconut milk or canned unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 red chile, seeded and chopped
2/3 cup fresh coconut cream, or canned unsweetened coconut cream

Wash the fish thoroughly under cold running water. Remove the gills or cut off the head. Make sure there are no traces of blood or intestines in the cavity. Scale the fish if necessary, and pat dry with a paper towel.

With a sharp knife, cut 4 slashes in each side of the fish. Rub the grated ginger and turmeric into the slashes. Turmeric is a terrible stain maker, so it might be a good idea to wear rubber gloves when doing this.

Open the cardamom pods and discard the pods. Keep the small seeds. Crush the cardamom gently between your hands. Cut two cloves lengthwise into 4 pieces if possible. If they are too dry to cut, use 3 whole cloves. Crush the cinnamon stick (if using) between your hands or using the flat side of a knife.

Dry roast the cumin, cloves and the cinnamon in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently for two minutes to release the flavors. Remove from the heat and add half the chile powder and the black pepper.

Heat the oil in a non stick skillet with a lid - the skillet should be wide enough to hold the fish. Add the onion, tomato and lime juice, and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes.

Add the coconut milk, roasted spices and half of the chili pepper and let simmer gently for 10 minutes. Make sure the pan does not boil dry. If necessary, add a little water.

Add the fish and coconut cream, and add more of the chili to taste. Let simmer, covered, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the fish is cooked and the flesh comes away from the bone when poked with a knife.

Entrecote with Onion, Ginger and Tamarind
by Andreas Viestad, Where Flavor Was Born
Photography by Mette Randem; Chronicle Books; 2007.

Serves 2 as a main course

2 - 1" thick, 8 oz entrecote, rib or sirloin steaks
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 TB vegetable oil or ghee
2 - 3 TB tamarind paste
1 tsp ground ginger
1 TB finely chopped fresh ginger
3 TB butter
6 onions, sliced
1 - 2 TB sugar
1/3 cup beer, dry white wine, or water

Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper, rub with the oil, and sear the meat for 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate to rest.

Add 1 TB tamarind paste and 3 TB water to the skillet and bring to simmer, stirring to scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. When most of the liquid has evaporated, pour the remaining mixture over the steaks. Season them with half the ground ginger and 1 tsp of fresh ginger.

Reduce the heat under the skillet to medium, add the butter and onions and season with a little salt to help start the browning. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the onions have started to brown nicely. Add the remaining 1 to 2 TB tamarind paste and ground and fresh gingers, the sugar and beer, and cook, uncovered until the onions are soft and light brown, and almost all the liquid has evaporated. Transfer the onions to a serving bowl, and cover to keep warm.

Add the steaks to the pan and cook over medium high heat for 4 to 6 minutes, depending on the desired doneness. Serve with the onions.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Year Two, in review!

Over at Weekend Cookbook Challenge we are celebrating the end of Year Two! Please clicky here to see the review.

Thanks to all of you who have taken part in Weekend Cookbook Challenge!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Round Up, Weekend Cookbook Challenge 24 - Veggin`Out

Red Cabbage with Mushrooms and Blueberries from Mediterrainian Cooking in Alaska

Hello! The round up for Weekend Cookbook Challenge is up here.

Thanks to all of you who took part this month.

Next month Ani from Foodiechickie is hosting, and her theme for February is Nigella Lawson. So find yourself a Nigella or Nigella-esque recipe, blog about it and email a link to Ani at foodiechickie AT yahoo DOT com. You have until February 21.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Food TV Cooking Club - Cottage Pie

Part of my more resolution was to take part in more food events, and another favorite of mine is the Cooking Club. This month Catherine chose Cottage Pie from Anthony Sedlak, host of The Main.

Anthony Sedlak was one of the finalists in the Superstar Chef Challenge on Food Network Canada. I've never seen that show, but I am a huge fan of The Main. It's my favorite show on Food TV right now. I love the food and I think Anthony Sedlak is a fantastic host. So yay! Excellent choice this month.

As much as I love this sort of dish, I felt the recipe was a little to heavy on the oil, butter, cream etc. for me right now. So I made some changes:
I didn't add any oil to the pan to cook the ground beef.
I cut back to 1 TB of oil to cook the vegetables.
I used 2 TB of butter in the mashed potatos instead of 1/3 cup.
I used non fat milk instead of cream in the potatos.
I omitted the Parmesan cheese in the potatos.
In the assembly, I omitted the butter and bread crumbs, but did sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese.

It may not have been as rich as the original recipe intended, but it was fabulous. It's a tough call, but it might be even better than my shepherd's pie.

Recipe: Cottage Pie

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Blog Party 30 - Veggie Friendly

It's been a few months since I've attended a Blog Party over at Dispensing Happiness. But with such a great theme for #30, how could I resist? Veggies are big in our house right now; I am new-years-resolutioning us into more veggies and less meat and processed food on a regular basis.

First up is open faced tomato sandwiches on biscuits.
Yes, it's winter and tomatos aren't really that great, but I'd rather have a not so great tomato than none at all. I've split biscuits (these are just Pillsbury), spread with a bit of mayo and some dried basil, topped them with sliced tomatos and sprinkled them with salt and pepper. So good. And good for you! Tomatos are low calorie, low fat, have no cholesterol, and are a good source of Vitamins A and C.

Next is one of my favorite lunch/dinner treats - Mango Cucumber wraps.

I spread the whole wheat wraps with a thin coating of dressing - mayo, mango chutney and curry powder - and top with shredded lettuce and chopped cucumber and mango. Normally I'd just roll them up and eat, but I watched an episode of Ricardo and Friends where he made wraps for a children's party. He wrapped them in parchment paper, tied off sections with ribbons, and then cut between the ribbons to make small wrapped servings. They looked so adorable I tried it.

Looks cute I think. PS - Cucumbers are low in calories and fat, and are good sources of calcium, iron, and Vitamin A.

And what Blog Party would be complete without a drink? I made up a batch of Dave Lieberman's Ginger Cranberry Cocktail, except I made individual drinks instead of a jug.
These were great and would be wonderful in the summer on a hot day. Ginger is not a veggie, but is still yummy. Ginger is a good source of Magnesium and Potassium, and is thought to help relieve migraines.

See you at the party!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Weekend Cookbook Challenge 24 - Veggin' Out - Part deux

I've received some mouth-watering submissions for Weekend Cookbook Challenge 24 - Veggin' Out.

Here's my second for this month - Chunky Tandoori Toss up from The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking and Entertaining.

This dish has everything I love in it - mango chutney, curry, and grilled veggies. And it's cooked on the bbq, something we've been doing lots of since Santa brought us a new propane tank! You'll need some extra elbow grease to get your grill pan clean afterwards - the yogurt sticks and burns - but it is worth it. I divided the marinade before adding the vegetables and used the reserved yogurt-curry-chutney goodness for dressing the veggies just as they are or rolled up in a tortilla (YUM!).

So find a recipe full of veggies in your collection, write about it and send it to me for the round up. The last day to send 'em in is January 20. My email is iliketocook at shaw DOT ca.

Chunky Tandoori Toss Up
adapted from The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking and Entertaining.

1 cup low fat or non fat yogurt
1/2 cup mango chutney
juice of one large lemon
2 tsp curry powder

Whisk the marinade ingredients together. Reserve 1/4 of the mixture for drizzling and dunking.

1 small cauliflower, cut into chunks
12 small thin skinned (yellow or red) potatos, cut into quarters
2 zucchini, cut into rounds
1 red onion, cut into large chunks

Steam or boil the cauliflower and potato chunks until just tender. Place the cauliflower, potatos, zucchini and onions in a large bowl. Pour over the marinade and toss well. Set aside while your bbq heats up.

Heat grill to a medium heat. Remove the vegetables from the marinade and place on your bbq grill pan. Grill the veggies, turning often, until they are tender and starting to brown. Serve with the reserved sauce on the side.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Country Cooking of France

Speaking of more, you know what else there should be more of in life? Cookbooks and French food. And you are in luck, because this post happens to be.....

a review about a French cookbook, The Country Cooking of France by Anne Willan.

Anne Willan is the author of more than thirty cookbooks, as well as the founder of a cooking school in France, La Varenne Cooking School. Ms. Willan has won numerous awards, including "Cooking Teacher of the Year" in 2000 by Bon Appetit Magazine. So you know that she knows her stuff.

Her newest book, The Country Cooking of France, is the first of her books I've read. What a shame for me! This is quite possibly the most beautiful cookbook I've ever seen. The photographs of the food and the pictures of France (a country road, a dog hunting for truffles, a bistro with stacks of chairs outside) are stunning. The short essays sprinkled throughout the book (on everything from garlic to horse meat to water) are all read-worthy. This is the sort of book that makes you want to sell your worldly possessions and run away to France. Anyone care to join me?

There are 17 chapters in the book; soups, eggs & cheese, game birds, and vegetable tarts are just a bit of what is covered. In addition there is a glossary full of techniques, recipes and equipment, which is immensely helpful if you are not too familiar with French cooking.

The recipes are are easy to read and clearly instructed. None seem too intimidating and the variety is vast, from simple lentil salads to home made pates and cassoulets. Get this one on your lists folks! You won't be disappointed.

Gougere Plate Au Fromage De Chevre (Flat Goat Cheese Gougere)

This is a most delicious cross between a pizza and cheese puff. Pate a Choux dough is spread on a pan and topped with herbs, garlic, and goat cheese (I also added some chopped green onion). The "pizza" tastes like it has bacon on it, but it's the smoky gruyere that's mixed in the dough. Totally fantastic.

Gambas Grilles au Sel de Mer (Seared Prawns with Sea Salt)
Shrimp tossed with salt and cooked in their shells. A bit messy but worth it.

Saute de Poulet aux Quarante Gousses D'Ail (Saute of Chicken with Forty Garlic Cloves)

Oh my. For years I've read recipes similar to this but never tried them. The chicken was so tender and the garlic? Yum.

Gratinee Lyonnaise (French Onion Soup)

I have to say, in all honesty this is the best French Onion Soup I have ever made. And I have made a lot of onion soups. I think the secret is the caramelized onion, as shown in that top picture. Unfortunately I realized at the last minute that my bowls are not oven safe, so I couldn't broil the soup to melt the cheese. But it was still amazing.

Gratinee Lyonnaise
By Anne Willan, The Country Cooking of France
photography by France Ruffenach; Chronicle Books; September 2007

4 Tb (60 grams) butter
5 to 6 yellow onions (about 2 lbs/900 g) thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1 yellow onion, halved but not peeled
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 quarts (1 1/2 litres) Veal broth (I used beef broth)
baked croutes (buttered and toasted baguette slices) made with 1/2 baguette
1 cup (100g) Gruyere cheese

Melt the butter in a soup pot over low heat. Stir in the sliced onions, season with salt and pepper and press a piece of buttered aluminum foil down on the onions. Cover the pan and sweat the onions over very low heat, stirring occasionally, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the lid and foil, raise the heat, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, until the onions are reduced, concentrated, and very dark brown, 8 to 10 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, char the halved onion. Heat an electric burner until hot, or heat a small saute pan over a gas burner. Sprinkle the cut surfaces of the onion with the sugar and set the halves, cut side down, on the burner or pan. Cook until dark brown, 2 to 3 minutes. When the sliced onions are ready, stir in the broth and add the charred onion. Cover, bring to a boil, and simmer to blend the flavors for 10 to 15 minutes. Discard the charred onion halves, taste the soup and adjust the seasoning. The soup can be made 2 to 3 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator.

Preheat the broiler and reheat the soup if necessary. Put 4 to 6 deep flameproof soup bowls on a baking sheet and heat in the broiler. Set 2 to 3 croutes in each bowl and ladle the soup on top. Sprinkle with the cheese and broil until the tops are browned. Serve at once - the onion soup must be scalding hot.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

2008 – The year of More.

Here we are already into week two of January. How time do fly, eh?

I want to share my mission statement for 2008 with you. It’s more.

More of all the good stuff. More experimentation in the kitchen. More new recipes. More trying new foods.

More fun. More themes. More challenges.

More taking part in events – Presto Pasta nights, Blog Party, and anything that catches my eye from Sticky Date and IMBB. Weekend Cookbook Challenge goes without saying, of course!

More fruits and veggies! More natural foods and ingredients. More whole foods. More smart and healthy choices.

More exercising. More getting healthy. More getting fit. More information on smart nutrition.

An ingredient that fits perfectly into my more is Tofu. Tofu is a fantastic ingredient. It is cholesterol free. It's low in calories, and is a good source of protein and iron. Tofu is virtually flavor free, so it's like a food sponge that you can flavor any way you want. You can blend it right into some recipes and you won't even know it's there.

That's a good place to start, if tofu is new to you.

Add it to stir frys, or soup. It also adds a lovely non-dairy creaminess to smoothies.

Pine-berry Smoothie.

1 cup frozen blueberries (or any berry or fruit of your choosing)
1 1/2 cups pineapple juice
3 tb soft tofu

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend.

This stir fry dish was good, way better than I had thought it would be. There was enough for 4 good size servings, but we wolfed it down between the two of us in no time at all.

Pineapple Tofu

based on a recipe from VegNews

1/2 pkg soft or medium tofu
2 tb flour
2 tb olive oil
1/2 onion diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 tb grated ginger
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup vegetable broth
2 tb soy sauce
2 cups diced pineapple

Crumble or chop the tofu into smallish pieces and toss with the flour. Heat half the oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the tofu and cook, stirring often, until golden brown. Remove to a plate. Add the rest of the oil and cook the onion, garlic, peppers and ginger until tender crisp but not brown. Add the tomato sauce, pineapple juice and vegetable broth. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until slightly reduced. Add the tofu, soy sauce and pineapple. Simmer until the tofu and pineapple are heated through. Serve over rice.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Weekend Cookbook Challenge 24 - Veggin' Out

Thank you Lisa for the logo!

I am back hosting Weekend Cookbook Challenge this month. I'm feeling the need for some extra vegetables in my life after the holiday season, so this months' theme is Veggin' Out.

We went out for dinner Friday night and had the most wonderful chicken/spinach/peanut dish. I've got spinach on the brain today and went looking for a recipe that will tide me over until I've got some time to re-create the other dish.

And I found it in my copy of Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.

I made some slight changes to this recipe - I used fresh spinach instead of frozen, I used vegetable bouillon instead of chicken, I made the dish for 2 people with just a bit more sauce than originally called for.

This was delicious! It it simple and quick to make and rivals the creamed spinach my mom has made for us. This might even be better! It's definitely lower in fat - although it tastes very rich, it only has 1 tb of butter and I used non fat milk. And you really can't tell, believe me.

Creamed Spinach
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook

2 generous servings

5 oz fresh spinach, washed and stemmed. If the leaves are large (I used baby spinach), chop the spinach roughly.
1 tb butter
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp vegetable bouillon
3/4 cup non fat milk

Steam the spinach until bright green and wilted. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a pan. Whisk in the cornstarch and vegetable bouillon and cook for one minute. Add the milk and whisk to blend all the ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes until thick and bubbly. Add the spinach and cook another 2-3 minutes. Grate in some fresh nutmeg and grind in some pepper. Serve right away.

Join in the veggie fun and send me your post by January 20 at iliketocook at shaw dot ca.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Scrambled Eggs and Potato Chips

Here's a fun dish that I can't take credit for - the original idea was by Ferran Adrai (of El Bulli) for a potato chip frittata. I read about it somewhere and it's been stuck in my head for ages.

And then there I was, in the kitchen looking for something to eat. The pickin's were slim so I decided on an egg. And then I remembered Adrai's dish. And then I remembered we had some chips in the pantry.

My choice was between a small amount of Pringles, or Scott's brand new bag of sour cream and onion. I do believe I chose wisely.

I whisked an egg with a bit of water and seasoned it with pepper. I chopped up one green onion and added it to the egg, along with about half a handful of lightly crushed Pringles. You want them fairly small, but not pulverized. Let everything sit in the bowl for 5 or 10 minutes so the chips soften (a thicker chip would need a couple of extra minutes and make sure there's lots of liquid), then scramble it up.

This was surprisingly great! The chips disappeared into the egg, leaving only the light taste of potatos behind. God, if you added an extra egg or two, and tossed in some chopped cooked bacon, you'd have a complete breakfast (eggs, bacon and potatos) all in one dish. How good would that be?

Definitely a fun dish to try, don't you think?